Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Praying In Tongues

WHY THE GIFT OF TONGUES IS (THE) AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER. There are many people; priests, nuns and lay who teach that meditation disciplines using Buddhist and Hindu yoga and mantras are authentic "Christian Meditation" as taught in the ancient Christian tradition. This claim is highly questionable to say the least and has no historical or Biblical foundation. This article presents the authentic prayer of the Holy Spirit as used by Jesus and the Aposltes.

By Catholic Evangelist Eddie Russell FMI

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit are terms commonly used by those in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world. They come from the book of Acts and describe the action of the Holy Spirit on the believer before and after the Pentecost. They are from Jesus’ words when he said in Acts Chapter 1: verse 5, "John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with The Holy Spirit." Another term commonly used to describe this experience is, The Release of the Holy Spirit.

This term is not found in Scripture. It is a term used to avoid confusion regarding the statement of faith relating to "One baptism for the forgiveness of sins" which relates to Baptism in water (in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the other hand, has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sin.

Therefore, The Release of the Holy Spirit would be more theologically correct when referring to those who have already received Baptism in water and have been Confirmed. These people have already received the Holy Spirit by the action of these two Sacraments which are administered by the Church.

Unfortunately, so many of these people are like someone who has received a beautiful gift, but have never opened it or used it. Therefore, there is a need for them to be released into the freedom of God and to live a powerful Christian life, no less than did the Apostles and the early Church.

The experience called, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is not a Sacrament which is given by the Church; It is the direct and infused action of Jesus imparting this experience himself when a person asks in faith to receive it.

This is borne out by the fact that the Pentecost event was a direct action of God on those who had gathered together as Jesus had requested, and thus he was able to fulfill his promise, that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It is Jesus who does the baptizing and, as the word suggests, those who receive it are "fully immersed" into The Holy Spirit.

The fact that this experience can and, as Scripture shows, often does happen subsequent to Sacramental Baptism and Confirmation, clearly indicates that it is a separate baptism altogether.

With so many terms used to describe one experience, it can in fact become even more confusing so, for the sake of continuity of expression, those involved in Charismatic Spirituality will generally adhere to the Biblical terminology for simple understanding and Scripture references.

The Church and Scripture teach that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is available to everyone who asks for it, and therefore it is available to everyone, including you.

"I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14: 16-17) NAB.

"Then afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even the servants and the housemaids, in those days, I will pour out my Spirit." (Joel 3:1-2) NAB

"These signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18) NAB

In Luke's Gospel, chapter 4; verse 18, we read that Jesus commanded the Apostles to go out into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. He also instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them and endued them with the power needed to do the task set before them. We note that, until that time, they were afraid, weak and ineffective.


1. Because until we are, we remain weak and ineffective too.
2. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed until the whole world has been converted.
3. The Church cannot do the job without the Holy Spirit who is God.
4. The sick still need to be healed.
5. The prisoner still needs to be loosed.
6. The poor still need their abundance.
7. The downhearted still need glad tidings.
8. Those who have sinned need to be forgiven.
9. The world still needs peace.
10. God has not changed the way He works (James 1:17)

This last reason is most important because God cannot contradict himself, he cannot go against his own Word, and he cannot change the way he has operated in any way in the past. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. He also calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Eternal God with no shadow of change. Therefore, he cannot, now will not, enter into an adulterous syncretism with other religions in order to improve on what he has taught clearly as authentic prayer, personal relationship, and divine union.

In John 14:16-17, quoted above, Jesus describes him as the Advocate, a word which means, "One who pleads the cause of another in a Court of Law; one who defends; vindicates; or espouses a cause by argument; a pleader in favor of something; intercessor."

Other names used to describe the Holy Spirit as Advocate are, Comforter, Helper, Teacher, Intercessor, Strengthener and Stand-by. In other words, the Holy Spirit was to be ALL that Jesus had been to them whilst he was still with them physically and, because Jesus knew that they could not finish the task when he left them to return to the Father, he promised that he would come back to them in the form of the Holy Spirit and live in them; this fulfilled the promise made by God through the Prophets (Joel 3:1-2)

When the day of Pentecost came around, we read that 120 men, plus women and children, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, had gathered together in the upper room. They were united and praised God together as Jesus had taught them to do.

The consequence of this united and fervent praise was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Suddenly there came a noise like a driving wind, the house shook and a fire came down upon them all and they began to speak in other Tongues as the Spirit gave them the utterance, including Mary who also spoke in Tongues on that day. The whole town heard the noise of the praises of God, and the Apostles went out into the street as though they were drunk, speaking in strange languages.

Peter stood up in front of the crowd which had gathered due to the commotion and said, "This is the beginning of that which was promised by the Prophet Joel ..." Amazingly; the whole crowd could understand them in their own native languages. It was because the Holy Spirit had enabled them to "Interpret" what was being said. It seems that the Holy Spirit was acting on the "hearers" as much as on those who were "speaking."

As we read the Acts of the Apostles, we begin to realize that this experience was not the only such occasion in the Church. St. Luke records at least two other events when the Holy Spirit came upon the people, and again these were accompanied with the "signs and wonders" which brought many to conversion.

St. Paul, too, must have seen many similar events. His letters to the Church in Corinth and Rome are full of his instructions for good order in the meetings, and the subsequent effects of experiencing this new life in the Holy Spirit, which is God's promise to ALL who believe.

The exciting thing is, we do!
Since the beginning of 20th century there has been a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit all around the world, with amazing signs and wonders clearly manifest in a similar manner.

In the Catholic Church alone there are in excess of 120,000,000 who have experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and this is not counting the millions of other Christians who have had the same experience. It is the fastest growing movement upon the Church (the whole body of Christ) at this point in time. And it is gaining momentum all the time.

Many people wonder why Charismatic Christians seem to over-emphasize the Gift of Tongues. This Gift causes more questions and concern than any other Charismatic Gift. But why would it disturb people so much, even to the point of accusing those, who are so gifted, of speaking demonically? After all, it is not the only Charismatic Gift in manifestation.

A simple answer to this is pure ignorance and fear. People are always afraid of what they do not understand. Another reason could be authors like Morton Kelsey, who align Spiritual Gifts, especially "Glossolalia" with psychic abilities and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth, since it is the Spirit which gives the utterance, not the human psyche.

But perhaps a clearer reason would be that Tongues cannot be translated as with a human language. Tongues can only be interpreted. Therefore, there is the companion Charismatic Gift called, "The Interpretation of Tongues." It cannot be understood with the mind because it is a language of the Spirit; therefore, it cannot be understood by reason or intellect.

St. Paul tells us that Tongues is a "sign" for those who do not believe. Perhaps this is a good reason. It causes them to question and, in one way or another, every question begs an answer and so forms part our apologetics. In addition, it is a sign to unbelievers because only a believer can use this heavenly language; it is the language of the sons of God and only the sons of God can use it; it the language of the Kingdom of God that is within them.

God wants everyone to pray well. The Gift of Tongues used for prayer is the most common and fluent Gift, and does not need "Interpretation." St Paul describes it as, "Uttering mysteries by the Spirit" and explains that the one using this Tongue "builds himself up." This Gift enables the user to express to God that which, in a human language, would be impossible to express. Fr Bob Faricy SJ described this Gift as, "Noisy Contemplation."

The purest form of prayer is said to be Non-conceptual Prayer.

St.Theresa of Avila talks about her "private prayer language" which was Tongues. In her writing on the Interior Castle, she grades Prayer, with the highest being Contemplative Prayer.

This takes two forms: (a) Acquired Contemplation. (b) Infused Contemplation.

The acquired prayer is that which we achieve by our own efforts, whereas the infused prayer is that which is a direct action of God upon the Soul and can only come by his action and in no other way. It is also called, Divine Union or The Prayer of Union, when the individual is so consumed into the mind of God that even thoughts cease. As St John of the Cross says in one of his poems; “A power of thought that thinks no more transcending far all human lore."

"Tongues" is True Non-Conceptuel Prayer.
It does not include the effort of the mind other than intention.
It is like a heart-to-heart by-pass - It goes directly from your heart, by-passes the mind, and goes directly to the Heart of God. The mind cannot clutter up the Spirit's intention.

Because our own thoughts and ideas cannot interfere, Tongues is a perfect prayer and can be prayed aloud or silently. When uttering a Tongue, your spirit and God's Spirit understand fully what is meant.

This is a far cry from the false asceticism of Hindu or Buddhist mantras, especially those taught as Christian Meditation, because even one syllable in a Tongue can express immeasurably more than thousands of words and expressions of a known human language.

This is Prayer Power indeed, because when we do not know what to pray for, or how to pray, The Holy Spirit prays in us with groans and uttering, which are incomprehensible to us, but God knows exactly what the Spirit means. (Rom 8:26) This cannot be learned from Hindu or Buddhist masters nor their Christian counterparts.

Tongues is not a requirement for entering Heaven, but it is given an important place in the life of the Christian by St Paul, who wrote nearly 60% of the New Testament.

Listed here are 10 good reasons why a Christian should desire and need the "Gift of Tongues."

1. Tongues is the initial sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 10:44-46 and 19:6)
2. Tongues is for spiritual edification (1 Cor 14: 4)
3. Tongues remind us of the Spirit's indwelling presence.
4. Praying in Tongues is praying in line with God's perfect will (Rom 8:26-27)
5. Praying in Tongues stimulates faith (Jude 20)
6. Praying in Tongues is a means of staying free from worldly contamination (1 Cor 14:28)
7. Praying in Tongues enables us to pray for the unknown (Rom 8:26-27)
8. Praying in Tongues gives spiritual refreshing (Isaiah 28:11-12)
9. By praying in Tongues you give perfect thanks (1 Cor 14: 15-17,)
10. Speaking in Tongues bring the tongue under subjection (James 3: 8). (Kenneth Hagin)

We can draw from Scripture that Jesus also used Tongues, primarily because he instructed his disciples on this Gift in Mark 16:17, when he said, "They will speak in tongues."

At the tomb of Lazarus (Lazarus - Hebrew: Eleazar "God (has) helped"), in John 11: 14, it says that Jesus “groaned” deeply in his spirit. He then says, “Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. You always hear my prayer. But I pray now for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." He then uses their language, calls for the winds, and charges Lazarus to come forth - Lazarus did.

As noted in Romans 8: 26, regarding “groans and uttering” we can concluded that the term “groaned” in John 11: 14, meant the same.
If we now consider that St Peter, who questioned everything, did not make any comment on this occasion of the Great Commission (Mark 16:17) and nor did anyone else, nor did Jesus elaborate on what he meant by this, we can also conclude that it came as no surprise to any of them.

Furthermore, on the day of Pentecost, when they all spoke in other Tongues, not one of them had a problem with that experience. In fact, Peter stood up to explain it. If they had not heard Tongues before they would no doubt be just as disturbed as was the crowd who was hearing it for the first time. As it is, they were not.

Later, Saint Paul corrects the Corinthian church in its use of the Charismatic Gifts and speaks at length about the Gift of Tongues; the Corinthians knew them as a normal and every day part of their faith. However, because of their abuse, Saint Paul reminds them that without love, these supernatural endowments can be a cause of scandal to the Church and unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14)

Speaking in other Tongues is a vital key which enables us to yield to the Holy Spirit and, thereby, it is the "Key Gift" to all other Charismatic Gifts. Scripture records that after a person had received the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in Tongues and to Prophesy.

We need to yield to the Holy Spirit because God will never force anything against a person's free will. If anyone has asked for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, they can rest assured that God has indeed given them the Holy Spirit. And even if they do not use Tongues immediately, they can yield to Him any time they wish to, without fear of having received a false Gift. (Luke 11:11-13)

If we consider it this way: Our own tongue is the "key", our own voice is the "engine", the Holy Spirit is the "fuel and the power."

We have to put the key into the ignition and start the engine before the fuel and the power will get the car moving. Only then can the Holy Spirit give the utterance. He can only do that when the engine is switched on and turning over. So, yes, it is WE who speak in other tongues, allowing the Holy Spirit to form the words.

We can still have the Holy Spirit without Tongues, but if Tongues can make us more effective in our Christian life, then we would be wise to come alongside St Paul and "Desire earnestly the Gifts." (1Cor 14:1-2)

It is important that we, as the Church, recognize the importance of the Holy Spirit and His Gifts because, if the early Church of the book of Acts needed them so much in manifestation and power, how much more do we need this in our day and age!

At this point, we have only just begun to see this Outpouring of the Holy Spirit even though over 120 million Catholics (10% of the Church) since Vatican II use them. As we understand more, and learn more about his anointing, he will remind us all the more of how close God is to us, and the Words of Jesus in John 14:15-18, will become a daily reality to enable us to do the "works" that Jesus did and of which he said we would do greater (John 14:12).

We will understand more clearly what Jesus meant when He said, "call God your Father." It is the Holy Spirit who moves us to pray and who enables us to cry out, "ABBA", that is, "Father" (Rom 8). It must be accepted therefore, that any prayer, meditation or contemplation, inspired and originating from the Holy Spirit himself, is the only authentic and perfect prayer in the mind of the Father, for the role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the mind of God.

For in depth teaching, look out for the next
Set My People on Fire seminars.
For a clear and considered look at false asceticism in Christian spirituality go to
What's in a Word.

Source: Blaze Magazine

Related posts:

Praying In Tongues - Faith or Fake ?

News Report On The Science Of Speaking In Tongues

Pentecostals Winning The Believers

Please post your comments.



RR said...

I do believe in speaking in tongues. Though I speak with the tongues of men AND angel,  yet I have not chartiy etc........... Paul admitted to speaking in with the tongue of angels which is obviously not a human language. 1 Cor. 14: 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him..... That is direct scripture and show that tongues don't have to be an earthy, known language like german or arabic etc.

Bob D said...

The fact that Catholic Church refuses to recognise the charismatic baptism of the Spirit as valid sacramental baptism/confirmation is the evidence that the charismatic baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a real baptism to the Catholic Church even though catholic charismatics may fight over it.
The Charismatic movement is fading away and getting less popular these days.

Fabian said...

Hi Bob, baptism by water and baptism by the spirit are two different things. It will take time to obtain formal recognition for these things. As you know the Catholic church takes a long while before it gives formal recognition to anything "new". While we often hear of numbers decreasing in Charismatic prayer groups and conferences, there is new growth, steady growth, and growth in the midst of great difficulties in many parts of the world.

Fabian said...

Just to add a little more...The passivity and even hostility of some priests and religions leaders towards the Charismatic Renewal is still a major problem in some areas. This is particularly serious in places where Catholics still will not accept lay leadership of prayer groups and diocesan service groups.

And yes, RR. Speaking in tongues is real. There are many religious including cardinals who pray in tongues although they may not be involved in the Charismatic Renewal.

James said...

I am a cradle Catholic. I was babtised by the Holy Spirit in 1987 when I attended a Life in the Spirit seminar and my life has never be the same again. Since then, I had deepened my personal relationship with God and my prayer life was revitalized. I had a deep conviction to evangelize, a hunger for God’s word and an increased understanding of it. I also gained a deeper appreciation of the sacraments. I have definitely become a new and better Catholic in comparison to what I was before.

Carl B said...

I know there is such a thing as true tongues. What things would I look for to detect if the speech is fake? I've been a Christian for a long time, but I am not so sure about speaking in tongues where there is no purpose for the gift of the Spirit. However, I suspect some speak in a language with Aramaic roots or some Middle-Eastern language. I recognized this because I had been in the Middle East with the military.

Lars said...

What is the proof that what you are babbling is "speaking in tongues" ?. It just shows that you are making sounds, without the use of the language center of the brain. You are not speaking in any language or words! You are just making sounds! That's it!

Simon W said...

Although speaking in tongues is a valid experience from God it is not always of the Holy Spirit. It can be counterfeited. Satan has counterfeits of the Gifts of God. What the angelic can do, the diabolic can also copy. I'm not against anyone speaking in tongues but its good to be cautious.

Tim said...

@Lars and Simon W

It's impossible to comprehend that which you have never experienced. And you're right, it seems a little crazy, but the things of God are foolishness to those who are not spiritually discerning. Ask God to reveal the truth to you, and you will find out that it is actually a very powerful prayer language that He has given to the Body Of Christ. We have access to the same gifts of the spirit that they had in biblical days. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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